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Archive for July, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/25/2007

Today’s Song of the Day is an attempt to continue the summer motif, and to I guess continue this week’s unofficial theme of male pop songs. From the album Amazing dream, it’s Aaron Kwok’s Summer Aloha:

Honestly, I don’t know what’s sadder: the fact that I like singing this at Karaoke, or the fact that I bought the album way back when. That would make a good poll.

The Golden Rock - July 25th, 2007 Edition

- Starting with those Oricon charts, both the singles and album charts saw very good sales this past week. On the singles side, Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest (which features a short film co-starring Hong Kong actor Shawn Yu in the more expensive version) scored a huge debut, selling 110,000 copies for an easy first place finish. This is Hamasaki’s 9th consecutive year of having a number 1 single, which ties the record set by Akina Nakamori throughout the 1980s. Actually, in the rest of the top 10, there’s only one single that’s not new on the chart, and that is Erika (as in Sawajiri)’s debut single, which sold another 18,800 copies in its third week. A little unlucky on the charts this week are Porno Graffiti and Orange Range, whose latest both hit chart-topping numbers (90,000 and 64,000 copies, respectively), but ended up at 2nd and 3rd place instead. In fact, looking at the daily charts, next week’s predicted winner Morning Musume isn’t even likely to sell more than 80,000 copies of their latest, although Ai Otsuka is following close behind to fight for that top spot.

- In the equally busy albums chart, another Johnny’s Jimusho group KinKi Kids wins the top spot, selling 301,000 copies of their latest album. Far far behind is American band Sum 41 (holy shit, they’re still around?), who sold 62,000 copies of their latest album a week ahead of the American release. Amazingly, hip-rock band (that’s a made-up genre by yours truly) Greeeen’s debut album continues to hang on at 3rd place, while Namie Amuro’s latest (which, in a shameless plug, I reviewed recently) also remains consistent at 4th place. According to the daily charts, the two Orange Range compilations is expected to win the upcoming week, with Canadian-Japanese band Monkey Majik’s latest album right behind them.

- I don’t mean to trash the Japanese blockbuster film Monkey Magic so consistently, but bad news just keeps coming in one after another, so I can’t help but report it. According to this blog post linked by Eiga Consultant, Monkey Magic suffered a huge loss not only due to the arrival of Harry Potter, but also because the film has earned horrible word-of-mouth, with comments like “childish” and “unnecessary” being thrown around on the internet. Also, the excessive television appearances by star Shingo Katori has led audiences to be fed up with his attempt to promote the film. With a budget of 3 billion yen (mostly spent on advertising and CGI), no wonder Fuji TV needs a 5.9 billion yen gross.

By the way, I’m going on this by my barely-intermediate Japanese knowledge, so feel free to correct me.

- Speaking of mis-reporting, there are reasons why I don’t look at Mainland Chinese websites for movie news. First, I don’t read simplified Chinese (at least not good enough to translate), and second, I have a personal vendetta against one particular English site (coughcrienglishcough). Now a case of misreporting rumors has been added to that list of reason. According to Hong Kong’s Ming Pao’s entertainment columnist, who is possibly screenwriter Chan Hing-Ka, a rumor from a Mainland China website reported that Ken Watanabe and Hideaki Takizawa has joined the cast of Derek Yee’s The Shinjuku Incident. The rumor was spread quickly, prompting Yee to come out and denied it. Excerpt from the Chinese article translated here:

娛樂圈這一行很敏感,演員如看到報道指某部電影打算找某位演員主演,後來自己又被邀請,很易聯想到自己是「執二攤」,即有其他演員在自己之前推掉角色,所以才輪到自己。

經理人公司特別在乎這方面的報道,別以為日本經理人公司不會留意中、港、台新聞,他們是很清楚的,只要一有相關報道出來,他們會立即四出查證。

The entertainment industry is a very sensitive one. If an actor reads a report about a film casting another actor, only to see him/herself also invited afterwards, then they might see themselves as “scraps.” That means he/she only got invited to join a film because another actor turned it down.

Managers/agents show special care into these kind of reports. Don’t think that Japanese agencies don’t look at Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwanese news; they are actually quite clear on it, and once such report comes out, they would immediately verify it.

試過有一位本地導演太早公布了與某日本演員合作的事,報道一出,其經理人公司當日就有電話打來查詢,那時互聯網還沒有現在般流行。

Once, a local director reported collaborating with a Japanese actor too early. Once the report came out, the actor’s agency called to verify on the same, and the internet wasn’t even as popular at the time as it is today.

某些傳媒在未經查證之下,會把網上的傳聞照搬過來,其實有時只需打一、兩個電話就可以求證,偏偏就不去做,假消息愈傳愈開,給當事人造成的困擾和傷害也愈來愈大。

Some media would post certain rumors without verification. Sometimes, a call or two can verify the news, but they don’t do it anyway. As the fake news spread gradually farther, it would concurrently cause more and more harm to those involved.

Of course, this isn’t the only fake report spreading around these days. After reports of Stephen Chow signing on to play Kato in the Green Hornet, Chow’s management came out the next day to deny it, even though the original post only says the film’s writer would LIKE to Chow for the role.

Don’t worry, The Golden Rock always strive to report the most accurate and verified news on Asian entertainment with the most bias a hypocrite like me can give out. Why do you think it takes me 2 hours a day to write an entry? Nevertheless, corrections to any possibly misreported stories are welcomed.

- Shinji Aoyama’s latest Sad Vacation is going to Venice. However, it will not be in competition, but in the Orizzonti sidebar section instead.

- Those in Hong Kong take note: Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou’s directorial debut Secrets is having sneak previews this coming weekend. Just get your tickets early, they’re getting snapped up fast. Oh, and Jay Chou will be at two of those shows on Sunday, which seem to be sold out by now anyway (that would be the seating charts filled with red you see in the post).

- Joel Schumacher, who has been blamed for single-handedly screwing up the Batman franchise once upon a time, is in talks to direct the remake of Johnnie To’s action flick Breaking News. I enjoyed Tigerland and Phone Booth (another thriller set in limited space and time compression), so this might turn out OK.

- Malaysian major bookstore chains, in protest of grocery superstore slashing book prices, boycotted the latest Harry Potter book. Of course, the bookstores have ended the ban because the “customers are the ones would suffer.” 1) Can’t they just go to the grocery superstores to buy the book at a lower price anyway? and 2) Am I the only who find an irony in huge bookstore chains protesting cheaper book prices when these chains were once responsible for putting mom-and-pop bookstores out of business with their lower prices?

- The nominees for the Seoul Television Festival is out, and one drama’s nomination seems a little absurd to me. The Japanese comic adaptation-Taiwanese drama Hanazakarino Kimitachihe, which is seeing its own Japanese adaption on TV right now, was apparently nominated because the judges thought the drama’s style was fresh, which is weird considering it’s an adaption of established work. Then again, I’m just picky against idol dramas.

- Speaking of bad TV dramas, Japan’s own foreigners’ rights crusader Arudou Debito is up in arms about a clip from the popular drama Hana Yori Dango 2, in which the only African American presence in the show happen to come in the form of only criminals. While I’m not as angry as he is (American dramas do the same to minorities - remember the first episode of Heroes?), this only goes to show that bad TV is universal. And this was the top-rated/top satisfaction/most illegally-downloaded drama of that season, people.

- This is the perfect follow-up. NHK is planning a three-part drama special about an international romance that blossoms between a Korean man and a Japanese woman. Um…they already did this a few years ago, guys. I know, I saw it. It wasn’t that good.

- Before everyone else, namely Hollywood, blames China for selling all this pirated movies, China would like to let you know that the technology came from everyone else! Yes, we knew that China is not exactly the most technologically innovative country in the world.

- From the Japanese trailer blog comes a trailer for the film Grow (Guro), about a high school boy who runs into three ghostly mentors before his death and learns to…well, grow.

- If anyone out there thought those “Hong Kong handover commemoration films” were a good idea, get ready for “2008 Chinese Olympic commemoration films!” According to this blog post, the first one up is “The Romance of the Pheonix,” starring Aaron Kwok and directed by Clifton Ko. I’ll probably be watching this anyway just because I’m a completist.

- Right on time for the 60th anniversary of its independence, there will be a 6-day long showcase of Indian culture in LA come mid-August. The focus is said to be on Indian cinema, which means I’m sure there will be some awesome dancing involved.

- Variety’s Derek Elley has a review of Takeshii Miike’s latest theatrical release from a few months ago - the video game adaptation Ryu Ga Gotoku, better known in the states as just Yakuza.

- Lastly, but certainly not last, German actor Ulrich Muehe, who starred as a conflicted agent for the East Germany secret police in the brilliant The Lives of Others, has passed away at the age of 54.

A Poll For All

As much as I enjoy sharing a song everyday, Youtube sadly does not contain every single song I like (nor does it contain every single song you like). I figured I should take advantage of the polls feature and throw this question out there - Should the Song of the Day feature continue even after the upcoming hiatus? A simple yes or no would do (though if you feel like adding more, a comment or an e-mail would be nice too). Look on your right for that poll.

The poll ends at midnight, August 4th Hong Kong time (that’s 9 am August 3rd San Francisco time, and 5 pm GMT August 3rd).

Here’s a little video to encourage you all to vote (not for this guy, though)

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/24/2007

Continuing with the quality boyish pop songs motif from yesterday, today we have a song from Japanese pop duo Chemistry’s 2005 album Fo(U)r. It’s Almost In Love.

The Golden Rock - July 24th, 2007 Edition

- The numbers for the Japanese box office is out from Box Office Mojo, but just as Warner Bros. has done in the past, it seems like they’re over-reporting their gross again. Box Office Mojo reports that the film made 2.27 billion yen, including supposedly 2.05 billion yen over the two-day period of July 21-22 because it opened on a Friday. Now, those who read Eiga Consultant (i.e., me) know that just ain’t true, because Potter made 1.12 billion yen from three days of previews last week (cue WB spokesperson - “Our wizardry will fight any typhoon that comes our way.”), so Potter actually made just roughly over 1.1 billion yen. While the gross after the first weekend beats the previous film, hence making it the highest-opening Harry Potter film, the 2-day gross is actually only 84% of the previous film. Then again, why am I painting a movie that opened with over 1.1 billion yen as disappointing anyway? It’s the misreporting that pisses me off more.

In the rest of the top 10, Pokemon suffers the largest drop of 50%, while Monkey Magic’s near-40% drop isn’t boding well for those early estimates, and even Indie dark comedy hit Kisaragi somehow made it to the top 10, thanks to the convenient omission of the Anpanman movie from the Box Office Mojo charts.

- I feel like I’m just repeating myself in saying that foreign films have yet again dominated the South Korean box office. There’s a bright spot, though - a Thai horror movie has managed to score 295,000 admissions to the 4th place of the top 10. I’ll let Mark Russell at Korea Pop Wars do the work again.

- Speaking of Mr. Russell, there’s an interview by him with Jeong Tae-Song, the head of Korean blockbuster distributor Showbox. A little disappointing, however, that Jeong couldn’t dish out more explanation towards his company’s actions, including why it pulled out of Kim Ji-Woon’s The Good, The Bad, and the Weird.

- Don’t worry, Korean cinema, Japanese distributors are still buying your movies.

- There’s word out there that Andy Lau is signing on to star in the remake of the 1967 version of a Better Tomorrow, which inspired the John Woo classic. Don’t mistaken this for the Big Media-backed Another Better Tomorrow. In other news surrounding the film, Stephen Fung is in talks to direct, I assume after he finishes the Stephen Chow-produced Jump.

- And who stars in Jump? None other than Hong Kong’s handsomest and richest bad boy Edison Chen. Over the years, he’s had his run-ins with the paparazzi and the generally unfriendly Hong Kong print press. On his blog, he finally decided to fight back and snap a couple of pictures of his tormentors. Of course, I wouldn’t be as stupid as to tell people to “piss or spit in they food” (jeez, thanks for promoting the stereotypes of bad Asian English), but I’m mildly entertained by this. The blog post even ended up on Oriental Daily’s Entertainment page’s top story (probably because the photographers in the blog post aren’t theirs), but you know the reporting isn’t going to be fair and balanced….just like this blog.

Is it just me, or isn’t it kind of ironic that he asks people to support the “underground” when he’s always pimping out mainstream hip-hop fashion and artists from Japan and the States?

- Everyone watch out, Andrew Lau is directing again! At least he usually goes away in just two hours when he’s making movies, but now he’s making a television series.

- A subsidiary of Japanese public broadcaster NHK has taken getting copyrights a little too seriously by registering the trademark of the name for a drama they haven’t even started showing yet. By trademarking the name, they want to collect 3% from each business that wants to use the name in the future. And they wonder why youths don’t respect intellectual property.

- There’s another review for the Hong Kong action film Invisible Target by Benny Chan.

- EastSouthWestNorth wants to remind everyone that there’s no active censorship in Hong Kong. Perhaps I’ve been a little rash in my opinions, when I’m really just mad at the lack of flexibility and common sense on the part of the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority of Hong Kong when classifying “indecent” material.

- I swear I thought that AZN Television, the American cable network targeted towards an Asian American audience, was all but dead, especially when there’s no more new original programming coming out. But perhaps they’re not quite going away for a while after all.

- Lastly, as a matter of personal interest, the trailer for the new Wes Anderson film The Darjeeling Limited is out. I’m a big fan, so I’m already looking forward to this even before the trailer’s out.

A Poll For All

As much as I enjoy sharing a song everyday, Youtube sadly does not contain every single song I like (nor does it contain every single song you like). I figured I should take advantage of the polls feature and throw this question out there - Should the Song of the Day feature continue even after the upcoming hiatus? A simple yes or no would do (though if you feel like adding more, a comment or an e-mail would be nice too). Look on your right for that poll.

The poll ends at midnight, August 4th Hong Kong time (that’s 9 am August 3rd San Francisco time, and 5 pm GMT August 3rd).

Here’s a little video to encourage you all to vote (not for this guy, though)

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/24/2007

Continuing with the quality boyish pop songs motif from yesterday, today we have a song from Japanese pop duo Chemistry’s 2005 album Fo(U)r. It’s Almost In Love.

The Golden Rock - July 24th, 2007 Edition

- The numbers for the Japanese box office is out from Box Office Mojo, but just as Warner Bros. has done in the past, it seems like they’re over-reporting their gross again. Box Office Mojo reports that the film made 2.27 billion yen, including supposedly 2.05 billion yen over the two-day period of July 21-22 because it opened on a Friday. Now, those who read Eiga Consultant (i.e., me) know that just ain’t true, because Potter made 1.12 billion yen from three days of previews last week (cue WB spokesperson - “Our wizardry will fight any typhoon that comes our way.”), so Potter actually made just roughly over 1.1 billion yen. While the gross after the first weekend beats the previous film, hence making it the highest-opening Harry Potter film, the 2-day gross is actually only 84% of the previous film. Then again, why am I painting a movie that opened with over 1.1 billion yen as disappointing anyway? It’s the misreporting that pisses me off more.

In the rest of the top 10, Pokemon suffers the largest drop of 50%, while Monkey Magic’s near-40% drop isn’t boding well for those early estimates, and even Indie dark comedy hit Kisaragi somehow made it to the top 10, thanks to the convenient omission of the Anpanman movie from the Box Office Mojo charts.

- I feel like I’m just repeating myself in saying that foreign films have yet again dominated the South Korean box office. There’s a bright spot, though - a Thai horror movie has managed to score 295,000 admissions to the 4th place of the top 10. I’ll let Mark Russell at Korea Pop Wars do the work again.

- Speaking of Mr. Russell, there’s an interview by him with Jeong Tae-Song, the head of Korean blockbuster distributor Showbox. A little disappointing, however, that Jeong couldn’t dish out more explanation towards his company’s actions, including why it pulled out of Kim Ji-Woon’s The Good, The Bad, and the Weird.

- Don’t worry, Korean cinema, Japanese distributors are still buying your movies.

- There’s word out there that Andy Lau is signing on to star in the remake of the 1967 version of a Better Tomorrow, which inspired the John Woo classic. Don’t mistaken this for the Big Media-backed Another Better Tomorrow. In other news surrounding the film, Stephen Fung is in talks to direct, I assume after he finishes the Stephen Chow-produced Jump.

- And who stars in Jump? None other than Hong Kong’s handsomest and richest bad boy Edison Chen. Over the years, he’s had his run-ins with the paparazzi and the generally unfriendly Hong Kong print press. On his blog, he finally decided to fight back and snap a couple of pictures of his tormentors. Of course, I wouldn’t be as stupid as to tell people to “piss or spit in they food” (jeez, thanks for promoting the stereotypes of bad Asian English), but I’m mildly entertained by this. The blog post even ended up on Oriental Daily’s Entertainment page’s top story (probably because the photographers in the blog post aren’t theirs), but you know the reporting isn’t going to be fair and balanced….just like this blog.

Is it just me, or isn’t it kind of ironic that he asks people to support the “underground” when he’s always pimping out mainstream hip-hop fashion and artists from Japan and the States?

- Everyone watch out, Andrew Lau is directing again! At least he usually goes away in just two hours when he’s making movies, but now he’s making a television series.

- A subsidiary of Japanese public broadcaster NHK has taken getting copyrights a little too seriously by registering the trademark of the name for a drama they haven’t even started showing yet. By trademarking the name, they want to collect 3% from each business that wants to use the name in the future. And they wonder why youths don’t respect intellectual property.

- There’s another review for the Hong Kong action film Invisible Target by Benny Chan.

- EastSouthWestNorth wants to remind everyone that there’s no active censorship in Hong Kong. Perhaps I’ve been a little rash in my opinions, when I’m really just mad at the lack of flexibility and common sense on the part of the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority of Hong Kong when classifying “indecent” material.

- I swear I thought that AZN Television, the American cable network targeted towards an Asian American audience, was all but dead, especially when there’s no more new original programming coming out. But perhaps they’re not quite going away for a while after all.

- Lastly, as a matter of personal interest, the trailer for the new Wes Anderson film The Darjeeling Limited is out. I’m a big fan, so I’m already looking forward to this even before the trailer’s out.

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/23/2007

Today’s Song of the Day blasts back to an era when wardrobe like the one in the video(s) are still acceptable. From Japanese most modest-looking pop star, and can be found on his 2004 compilation, it’s Noriyuki Makihara’s Mou Koi Nante Shi Nai.

Then, found on any Leon Lai compilation such as this one, it’s his classic cover “My Love.”

Why, yes, that IS Anita Yuen.

The Golden Rock - July 23rd, 2007 Edition

- After what’s been a somewhat disappointing summer for Hong Kong cinema, there’s finally some good news to report. According to the Sunday numbers from Hong Kong, Benny Chan’s actioner Invisible Target made an impressive HK$1.31 million on just 36 screens (and it’s been sent off to the smaller screens in almost all the multiplexes it’s playing in thanks to Harry Potter). After 4 days, the Nicholas Tse-Shawn Yu-Jaycee Chan starrer has made HK$4.6 million and word-of-mouth may bring it to the HK$10 million mark, which has become a sad sad standard for success.

Meanwhile, Harry Potter did actually win Sunday, making HK$3.1 million on 83 screens (see what I mean about Invisible Target getting shafted?) for a 12-day total of HK$37.03 million. Now that it’ll be passing the HK$40 million mark in a day or two, let’s start looking towards 50 mil, which I’m sure no one will be surprised about. Meanwhile, the Japanese animated film Keroro 2 (which apparently is only out on a Cantonese dub in theatres?!) makes HK$790,000 on 28 screens, many of them not playing it past 5 pm, for the 4-day total of HK$2.32 million.

From Hollywood, the Nicholas Cage sci-fi thriller Next makes HK$220,000 on just 15 screens for HK$780,000 after 4 days, and Quentin Tarantino’s talky Death Proof director’s cut makes just another HK$60,000 on 5 screens for a 4-day total of just HK$300,000. I’m not surprised that more visually exciting Planet Terror will end up doing better, especially when Tarantino’s self-indulgent talk about grindhouse movies won’t translate quite well in Chinese.

US$1=HK$7.8

- This week, Lovehkfilm has a review of the aforementioned Invisible Target, the straight-to-video (at least in America) stinker Kung Fu Fighter, the Singaporean comedy Just Follow Law by Jack Neo, the Japanese blockbuster sequel Limit of Love: Umizaru, Korean-Japanese filmmaker Sai Yoichi’s Korean debut Soo, and the Shunji Iwai-directed documentary Filmful Life (with the last two by yours truly).

- In Japan audience rankings, who honestly didn’t expect Harry Potter to take the weekend? That bumps everything down a spot, except for 300, which gets bumped off of the top 10 along with Zodiac by the animated film The Piano Forest.

- In the Chinese city of Nanjing, the American-made documentary Nanking is a hit, with theaters lowering ticket prices and donors pouring money to make sure as many people get to see it as possible. Anyone see an agenda in Chinese people making a Chinese government-approved documentary a hit?

- Time for endless analysis of Japanese drama ratings. Fuji’s big Monday drama First Kiss gets a Joudan Janai-sized drop from a promising 19.7 rating (about 12.8 million) the first week straight down to a 13.2 (about 8.6 million) for its second week. The “Taiwan got them first, now we’re taking them back” comic adaptation dramas Hana Zakari No Kimi Tachi He and Yamada Taro Monogatari saw one fall slightly and the other got a bit of a bump. Hana lost about 200,000 viewers, while Yamada gained about 400,000 viewers. Don’t worry, they’re on different nights and different time slots anyway.

Meanwhile, the critical favorite/Freaky Friday-ripoff Papa To Musume No Nanakakan got a season high of 14.1 rating (roughly 9.15 million), and Fuji’s experimental Saturday 11pm time slot drama Life hangs on with a 10.9 (7.1 million), which is the same as last week. Oh, and Yama Onna Kabe Onna continues its slow drop to a 12.1 rating (7.9 million viewers) this week for its third episode.

As always, all the information for this season’s drama can be found on Tokyograph.

- After the earlier reported Joey Yung=Mandy Moore MTV discovery, netizens have found yet another MTV by the same director that seems to be derived from an original Japanese source. Except unlike the Joey Yung incident, where EEG and Yung herself seem to simply ignore the complaints, the Taiwanese pop star actually released a statement within hours acknowledging the complaints. Then her manager released his own statement, apologizing and stating that he has asked video play to stop immediately. And then after all of that does the director finally apologize, saying that he did watch YUI’s MTV as a learning tool, but didn’t intend to copy. However, he has not acknowledged copying Mandy Moore’s video.

Nevertheless, this is worth mentioning because the star knows that it’s not her fault, but at least she took the effort to clear her name and apologize, unlike the EEG/Gold Label attitude, where they use “coincidence” as the ultimate excuse for everything.

- That was fast. Milkyway screenwriter Yau Nai-Hoi’s directorial debut Eye in the Sky literally just left theaters this past weekend, and a DVD has already been announced for August 4th.

- playwright-screenwriter-sometimes-director Koki Mitani is back with a new film after the ensemble hit The Uchoten Hotel (a great comedy, by the way). This time it’s a darker piece about a gang thug who brings in an actor to pretend to be an assassin when he can’t find a real one. Apparently he’s promising three laughs a minute (at least that means it won’t run too long like Uchoten Hotel did). Sanspo also does some over-reporting and predicts it might make 12 billion yen based on the Mitani’s films’ box office pattern. Please fuck off with that kind of stuff already.

- Speaking of “what the fuck?” The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Hong Kong comedy legend Stephen Chow will play Kato in the Green Hornet movie alongside…….Seth Rogan?! Who the hell put together that dartboard?

Thankfully, a closer look shows that the news is from an LA Times blog that reports Seth Rogan WANTS Stephen Chow for Kato. Chow has NOT officially signed on. In fact, he probably hasn’t even been pitched the idea yet.

- Oh, my bad. The controversial Bangkok International Film Festival got under way last Thursday, but hasn’t really seen much clear success in attendance.

- Speaking of festivals, the Toronto Film Festival has announced most of its midnight madness lineup, which includes Wilson Yip’s Flashpoint and Hitoshi Matsumoto’s Dai Nipponjin.

- Lastly, Hollywood Reporter gives brief reviews of Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective and Lee Sang-Il’s Japanese Academy Award winner Hula Girl.

 
 
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